The National Basketball Association has teamed up with the Ad Council and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to address anti-gay language used among teens. They have created a series of public service announcements airing throughout the remainder of the highly viewed NBA playoffs and featuring two NBA stars: Grant Hill and Jared Dudley of the Phoenix Suns.
The PSAs are an extension of the acclaimed Think Before You Speak Campaign and GLSEN‘s “Changing the Game” Initiative. Each were created pro bono by New York ad agency ArnoldNYC. The debut of the first PSA also aired on donated time last night during the much-anticipated Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls Eastern Conference Finals game 1. The Ad Council has reported that they will be distributing the PSAs to over 1,600 stations nationwide and for the entire week they will air on donated time.
The ad features a teen negatively using “that’s so gay” on a basketball court. The two NBA stars put a stop to the language and explain to the players that using homophobic language to mean something is “dumb or stupid” is not acceptable while playing sports or anywhere else. The ad directs viewers to ThinkB4YouSpeak.com to learn more about inclusive language and how to get involved.
Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s executive director had this to say:
“The NBA’s support helps us start a conversation that hopefully will have a lasting impact with an incredibly engaged audience about the Think Before You Speak campaign’s message of respect. Anti-LGBT language is one of the most pervasive forms of harassment in schools, and the casual use of phrases like “that’s so gay” contributes to the hostile school climates that LGBT youth face across the country.”
The NBA’s support comes just after one of their major stars, Kobe Bryant, found himself in a bit of hot water recently after making a homophobic comment during one of his games. He has since apologized for his remarks but the NBA has faced increased pressure since then to address homophobia in basketball.
The NBA deserves a lot of credit for taking on this project. It is very visible and has the potential to impact not only many young lives, but also lives of people who are adults and grew up basketball fans. It doesn’t mean each person will have some sort of awakening where they will immediately be enlightened, but what it does mean is that over time, with consistency, we can see the culture of sports change to a more healthy, inclusive, safe environment.
The NBA has the potential to be a leader for professional sports teams to follow. In light of major public figures either coming out recently, or coming out as a straight ally, the climate of visible, positive people in the media is drastically changing. Gay people are no longer individuals that are ashamed of who they are, they are average people doing the same things everyone else does, including playing sports.
That doesn’t suggest the climate for gay individuals is ideal, but definitely getting better. With major support from historically homophobic environments, one can only imagine, as Dan Savage might say, it does in fact “get better.” The hope can only be that other professional sports leagues will follow the NBA’s lead and in doing so, have a positive impact on the culture of athletics.
If you would like more information about this topic or ways to get involved, please visit ThinkB4YouSpeak.com
Photo by: Allison